In certain cases, hearing aids have been shown to help reduce tinnitus. According to a study conducted by Sergei Kochkin (Ph.D.) and Richard Tyler (Ph.D.), 60% of 230 surveyed patients experienced some relief from their tinnitus through the use of hearing aids alone. These devices are most effective when used in conjunction with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) to assist in the management and control of tinnitus. In this article, we will cover how the use of hearing aids can help manage tinnitus.
About 20 percent of the adult population will report some hearing loss at any given point in time. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders claims that about 36 million American adults experience hearing loss. Unfortunately, only a small fraction will ever get the sort of lasting relief they need. Tinnitus is one of the most common hearing issues people experience (though it’s a symptom, not an independent condition), yet Tinnitus is often ignored for many years on end.
What is the best treatment for tinnitus?
This topic is the center of debate among audiologists, ENTs, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and others. Ringing in the ears is a complicated symptom with many possible underlying causes. Tinnitus treatment that works for one person may not work for another. Because it is so distinctively personal, choosing an audiologist that offers evidence-based, personalized treatments is very important.
Do hearing aids help with tinnitus?
Hearing aids are a great starting point for tinnitus sufferers that also have hearing loss. Usually, these will be individuals having difficulty hearing external sounds at a desirable volume and are hoping for those sounds to be amplified.
Hearing aids help a lot of people with tinnitus, but they don’t work for everybody. Still, when combined with tinnitus retraining therapy and other strategies, a comprehensive treatment plan can create highly desirable outcomes.
Devices that provide prescriptive amplification are one important component for tinnitus sufferers that also have hearing loss. Without receiving the proper levels of sound, the brain will constantly be searching for the missing input. This “searching” creates hyperactivity that contributes to the ringing, hissing, or buzzing that is perceived as tinnitus. Prescriptive amplification through hearing devices replaces the missing input and is a great start to treating tinnitus. What hearing aids alone do not do is address the involvement of the limbic and autonomic nervous system with bothersome tinnitus. When amplification is incorporated as a part of prescriptive sound therapy and educational counseling, we will see gradual reductions in tinnitus over time with the end goal of blocking the perception of tinnitus. In other words, amplification is needed to rewire the brain and create new auditory pathways. Prescriptive sound therapy and educational counseling are needed to target the limbic (emotional system) and fight or flight response (autonomic system). Adding a soothing and therapeutic backdrop plays a vital role in decreasing tinnitus hyperactivity. Ignoring both the underlying hearing loss at specific frequencies and the reactions created by the nervous system to tinnitus will prevent a patient from achieving the full desired outcome of tinnitus relief.
When this is the case, you will want to choose an audiologist that allows you to explore your options further. In most cases, your audiologist will recommend a combination of tinnitus treatments that may include sound therapy, sound maskers, counseling, medication, and others. A multi-disciplinary approach involving several medical providers may be necessary with more severe cases of tinnitus.
What other tinnitus treatment options are available?
Because tinnitus is relatively common, researchers everywhere are constantly looking for new ways to treat it. Choosing an audiology practice that uses a tested, evidence-based approach will help increase the likelihood of having a successful outcome.
One of the most effective forms of tinnitus treatment is sound therapy. As the term implies, sound therapy helps “rehabilitate” your auditory system and change the way you hear the world around you. Sound therapy will often involve various exercises that can help retrain your brain and begin to reduce the intensity of tinnitus gradually. While the relief it provides may not always be immediate, most patients will report positive progress after just a few months. It is also important to note that while the two are only sometimes used in conjunction with one another, sound therapy and hearing aids are not mutually exclusive.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
TRT uses sound therapy and directive counseling over 12 – 24 months to properly deal with the three systems involved: the auditory system (hearing), the limbic system (emotions), and the autonomic nervous system (flight or fight response).
Sound Maskers (White Noise)
Sound maskers might mask a person’s tinnitus using white noise, but they are NOT effective in providing long-term benefits. Maskers may be used for short-term use to cover up the problem of tinnitus. However, for a long-term solution, the brain must “see” the tinnitus in order to reclassify it as neutral and desensitize to its presence and impact.
Should I Schedule an Appointment with an Audiologist?
If you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus and have never met with an audiologist, now may be the perfect time to schedule your first appointment. Many people are completely unaware of how much better the world can sound until they are introduced to some of the technologies and treatments currently available. You should also schedule an appointment with an audiologist if you are suffering from tinnitus, hyperacusis, or any other debilitating hearing issue. These issues are much more treatable than many people initially assume. If you saw an audiologist a few years ago and did not have the answers you were looking for, you should revisit the idea knowing that technology has improved. There are now more options than ever before to help patients with tinnitus and other hearing-related issues.
Conclusion – Can Hearing Aids Help With Tinnitus?
In the complex world of hearing, the need for personalized hearing solutions is undeniable. When it comes to tinnitus, people with hearing loss will benefit from hearing aids. While others may need a more in-depth approach such as TRT. If you’re looking to determine the severity of your tinnitus, take our Tinnitus Impact Survey.
If you are unsure which tinnitus treatment approach is for you, make an appointment with the experts at Sound Relief Hearing Center. Get a personalized approach and discover how you can start improving your life. No tinnitus treatment team is ranked higher or referred with more confidence. For more information visit our website or call (720) 344-7600.
At Sound Relief Hearing Center, we provide hope and help to those living with tinnitus and other hearing health issues. Our patients are at the center of everything we do, and we strive to guide them to overcome their challenges by delivering innovative and compassionate healthcare.
Dr. Julie Prutsman, owner of this family-owned practice, has expanded to 8 locations across Colorado and Arizona. In 2012, she founded Sound Relief in her hometown of Highlands Ranch, Colorado and continues to foster their mission through mentorship of the brightest minds in the field of Audiology.